Chamberlin

INFORMATION

The Mellotron directly comes from the Chamberlin (see History).

In 1946, in California, Harry Chamberlin created a musical instrument that was able to play pre-recorded magnetic tapes. Somehow, it was the first sampler in history.

Harry Chamberlin Interview
Crawdaddy – April 1976
[Thanks to Brian Kehew]

1948 – 1949

Model 100 Rhythmate

Approx. 10 units
It’s the first Chamberlin. It could play 14 drum loops recorded on 1/4″ tapes, with one track on each tape.
This instrument was designed for household purposes.
Taking advantage of the Model 100’s success, Harry Chamberlin started up a shop in Upland, California.

1951 – 1959

Model 200

Approx. 100 units
Unlike the previous model, the 1/4″ tapes of the Model 200 are no longer looped.
There is still only one track per tape, but this is the first Chamberlin to feature a multi-soundbank system.
It is also the first model to have musical instrument sounds (flute, violins, oboe, etc.).
The recordings were made by the Lawrence Welk Orchestra.

Up until 1969, the next Chamberlin models used 3/8″ tapes with 3 tracks per tape.

1960 – 1969

Model 300/350

Approx. 200 units

1961

Model 400

1 unit

1961

Model 500

2 or 3 units

1962 – 1969

Model 600/660 Music Master

Approx. 200 units
The Model 600/660 had two 35 note keyboards: the right hand keyboard was used for lead instruments, while the left hand one was used for rhythmic accompaniments.
Bill Fransen, Chamberlin’s salesman, left for England in 1962 with two Chamberlin 600 Music Masters unbeknownst to Harry Chamberlin.
It is this model that will serve as the basis for the creation of the first Mellotron Mark I, taking up its characteristics with an improved general design.
[See History]

1960 – 1969

25/35/45 Rhythmate

Approx. 100 units
As soon as 1970, Harry Chamberlin gave up the concept of instruments with several sound banks, and created a new series of instruments (800 Riviera, M1, M2, M4), using 1/2″ tapes with 8 tracks per tape, and a stereo playing system. This series was produced from 1970 to 1981.

1970 – 1981

800 Riviera

2 units

M1

Approx. 300 units
The M1 had a 35 note keyboard. It was the most widespread and the most complete model.

M2

5 units
The M2 (or M1D) had a right hand, 35 note keyboard, and a left hand, 25 note keyboard.

M4

4 units
The M4 was basically two M2s in a single cabinet: thus, it had 4 keyboards.
Mike Pinder used a M4 on The Moody Blues’ Seventh Sojourn album.

1975 – 1980

20/30/40 Rhythmate


Patents

Model 100 & 200
US 2,910,298 – Filed: 16/07/1956 – Issued: 27/10/1959
US 2,940,351 – Filed: 16/10/1953 – Issued: 14/06/1960

Music Master
US 3,250,847 – Filed: 05/07/1960 – Issued: 10/05/1966
US 3,272,907 – Filed: 03/02/1964 – Issued: 13/09/1966

Rhythmate
US 3,278,188 – Filed: 03/09/1963 – Issued: 11/10/1966

M Serie
US 3,567,840 – Filed: 20/06/1968 – Issued: 02/03/1971

PHOTOS

Chamberlin Rhythmate 20 #415


Chamberlin Rhythmate 35 #692


Chamberlin Rhythmate 40 #1462


Chamberlin Rhythmate 50 #1063


Chamberlin Model 200


Chamberlin Model 300 #6413


Chamberlin Music Master 600


Chamberlin M1 #86132


Chamberlin M1R #81304


Chamberlin M2 #70104


Chamberlin M4 Riviera 800 #69609

Photos: Don Kennedy for Studio Bell – National Music Center